Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Palace Embankment Walking Tour (Self Guided), St. Petersburg

Stretching along the River Neva in the very heart of St Petersburg is the Palace Embankment. A long standing tourist attraction, other than fresh air and a pleasant view of the river, the Embankment offers a terrific sight of the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Vasilievsky Island. The Embankment also holds marvelous landmarks such as the Winter Palace, the Hermitage Theatre, the Marble Palace and others. No visit to St Petersburg is complete without a stroll along the Palace Embankment.
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Palace Embankment Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Palace Embankment Walking Tour
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palace Square
  • Winter Palace
  • Hermitage Bridge
  • Hermitage Theatre
  • Vladimir Palace
  • Marble Palace
Palace Square

1) Palace Square (must see)

One cannot truly experience St. Petersburg without visiting the breathtaking Palace Square – the central city square of St. Petersburg. The location receives its name from the nearby Winter Palace and connects the Palace Bridge and the Nevsky Prospekt. It is also the location where many important historical events occurred. Bloody Sunday, where the Tsar’s troops gunned downed protestors, occurred nearby. The Cruiser Aurora fired a shot from its forecastle gun to signal an attack on the Winter Palace during the October 1917 Revolution.

The plaza was designed from 1819 to 1829 by architect Carlo Rossi. The square contains a mix of design styles from the Winter Palace (Baroque) to the Classical style of the Imperial Army General Staff building. One of the most stunning architectural elements is the Alexander Column, a 47.5-meter high column that celebrates Russia's victory over Napoleonic France.

The monument is topped with an angel that is holding a cross. The designer was Auguste de Montferrand. One stunning aspect of the 600-ton statue is that it was installed without cranes or machinery. It also did not require any attachment to the base. Nearby tourist attractions include the Hermitage Museum, the General Staff Building, and Admiralty. The plaza is the site of many concerts by popular artists.

Why You Should Visit:
Immaculately clean square and, since it's bordered by the Hermitage and the Winter Palace, also extremely picturesque.

The horse rides only take 20 minutes, but give a special dimension to visiting St Pete (and are not expensive).
Sight description based on wikipedia
Winter Palace

2) Winter Palace (must see)

Located between the Palace Embankment and Palace Square is the Winter Palace, the former official residence of the Russian Royal Family, from the 1700s to 1917. The Elizabethan Baroque building is most famously associated with Catherine the Great who acquired the impressive art collection the palace holds. The current structure is the fourth version of the palace as all the previous ones were extensively remolded.

The design of the palace is exquisite. Golden emblems adorn the exterior and the gates, while white and gold accents accent the interior. Luxury is in abundance with marble accents, gorgeous sculptures, and painted ceilings. Some of the must-sees are Nicholas Hall, an 11,870-foot room that was the setting for many balls and receptions, carriages that are decorated with gilded wooden carvings, the State Gala staircase with its red velvet carpet, and the medical instruments of Peter I.

From February to October 1917, the palace briefly became the seat of Russian government. After the Bolshevik government moved the capital of Russia from St. Petersburg to Moscow, the palace became a part of the Hermitage Museum.

Over 2.5 million visitors attend the palace each year. There are 350 rooms with over three million exhibits available for viewing. Among them are the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, El Greco, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, and many others. You must purchase a ticket to film video or take photographs. The palace is particularly breathtaking when viewed against the backdrop of the winter snow.

Why You Should Visit:
Pride of St Petersburg!

Make sure to arrive by opening time at 10:30 so you can get ahead of the crowds.
Best to go with a tour guide to get the most out of your visit – the audioguide is vital if you are on your own.

Opening Hours:
Tue, Thu-Sun: 10:30am-6pm; Wed: 10:30am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hermitage Bridge

3) Hermitage Bridge

The Hermitage Bridge is a stone overpass that graces the gorgeous Winter Canal, which streams into the Neva River. It is located between the Hermitage Theatre and the Old Hermitage. Originally named the Upper Embankment Bridge, it is one of the oldest stone bridges in St. Petersburg and one of 315 bridges in the city. The original name was never popular with the people. Therefore, from the 18th century on, the bridge was known as the Palace Bridge. The current name was instituted in 1929.

The original bridge was a three-span wooden bridge that was constructed during 1718 to 1720 by Herman van Boles. The original arches of the bridge were brick and limestone and featured a granite facing. The stone bridge was built during 1763 to 1766. The bridge was replaced with reinforced concrete in 1934 by project engineer AD Saperstein and architect K. M. Dmitriev. In 1950, the original furnishings of the ramps were restored.

Each year, thousands of tourists and photo enthusiasts enjoy the spectacular views and stunning photo opportunities the Hermitage Bridge offers. One can easily see waterfront views of the nearby Palace Embankment where the Summer Garden and Winter, Vladimir, Novo-Mikhailovsky, New Michael, and Marble Palaces are located.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hermitage Theatre

4) Hermitage Theatre (must see)

Known as one of the oldest theaters in Russia, the Hermitage features concerts, lectures, plays, and music festivals. It is one of five Hermitage buildings that are located along the Palace Embankment on the Neva River. The theater features a Neoclassical design by architect Giacomo Quarenghi and was built from 1782 to 1785 at the request of Catherine the Great.

The semicircular auditorium was designed to resemble an amphitheater. Statues of Apollo and the muses purposefully decorate the hall. The stage displays Russian aristocracy at their best and you will feel every bit the Russian aristocrat when you visit. Guests will enjoy the red velvet, fake marble, and distinctive lighting that perfectly displays the beauty of this 18th-century jewel. Although the structure survived the Soviet years, and much of the original furnishings remain, the impressive and detailed sets were lost forever.

The best of the best performed at this theater. Leading artists such as Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, Fyodor Chaliapin, Svyatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich and Yelena Obraztsova have graced the stage. In addition, ballets such as Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Chopiniana are frequently performed. Whether you enjoy opera, ballet, or theater, you will not leave disappointed.

Open seating (no allocated seats) means you must go early and choose seats near to the rear and center for the best views!
If you want to see a non-tourist ballet performance, book the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg or the Bolshoi in Moscow.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-10:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Vladimir Palace

5) Vladimir Palace

Vladimir Palace is one of the last regal palaces to be constructed in St. Petersburg. Vasily Kenel, Aleksandr Rezanov, Andrei Huhn, Ieronim Kitner, and Vladimir Shreter designed the fortress. The building is located on the Palace Embankment. It was constructed from 1867 to 1872 for Alexander II's son, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia. Today, the house is known as the Academics’ House.

The 360 rooms and outbuildings features several design styles from many different influences. Neo-Renaissance, Gothic Revival, Russian Revival, Rococo, Byzantine Style, and Louis XIV, are some of the many influences one will see as they view the many exhibitions. The exterior facade features stucco rustication and the main porch has Bremen sandstone that is decorated with griffins, coats-of-arms, and cast-iron lanterns.

The palace was given to scientists after the October 1917 Revolution and became known as the Academics’ House. This transfer is probably what enabled the palace to survive the Soviet years without losing any of its original design or detail. Visitors will enjoy viewing 19th century porcelain, vases, dinner services, the Main Staircase, the Golden Staircase, the intricate ceiling tiling in the Persian Room, the Monumental Stove in the Oak Hall, and many other stunning displays of design. The palace is open for tours Monday through Saturday.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Marble Palace

6) Marble Palace (must see)

Marble Palace is located between the Field of Mars and the Neva River. Dubbed by many as “the only of its kind”, the interior and exterior of the property featured 32 different types of marble. Catherine the Great intended the palace as a gift for Count G. Orlov, one of her favorite friends. Architect Antonio Rinaldi built the palace from 1768 to 1785.

Unfortunately, Count Orlov did not live to see the glorious creation and the palace passed through a succession of royalty before becoming the property of the Soviet government in 1917. Much of the design was lost on the first floor when the Central Museum of Lenin was installed at the palace. The only items that survived were the Main Stairs and the Marble Room.

The museum is home to two impressive collections. The first collection is a compilation of over 500 items donated by the Rzhevskiy Brothers. It consists of 19th and 20th-century art (drawings, paintings, porcelain, and antiques), by artists Mikhail Nesterov, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. The second set is the Ludwig Collection and features European, American, and Russian exhibitions from the Ludwig Museum.

An equestrian statue of Alexander III majestically greets all who pass through the courtyard.

Pre-book a tour of the palace! It is during the tour that the more beautiful rooms are shown, which are closed to regular visits. The most important one – Marble Room – also has limited access.

Opening Hours:
Wed, Fri-Mon: 10am-6pm; Thu: 1-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in St. Petersburg, Russia

Create Your Own Walk in St. Petersburg

Create Your Own Walk in St. Petersburg

Creating your own self-guided walk in St. Petersburg is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour

Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour

Nevsky Prospekt (Nevsky Avenue) is the main artery of Saint-Petersburg, named after Alexander Nevsky, a prominent warlord and legendary figure in Russian history. The Avenue hosts a plethora of historic and cultural attractions, as well as shopping and entertainment venues. Follow this guide to the Nevsky most popular sights.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour

Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour

Vasilievsky Island is a part of Saint Petersburg's historic center. The southern embankment of the island has long attracted tourists with its old beautiful buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century. This guide will help you find and explore the most popular attractions on St Petersburg's Vasilievsky Island.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Russian Literary Heritage Walking Tour

Russian Literary Heritage Walking Tour

Many world-famous Russian writers and poets lived in Saint Petersburg. All of them described this beautiful city in their works. We offer you an unforgettable walking tour around the museums devoted to some of the most outstanding figures in Russian Literature. Do not miss the opportunity to see places of Saint Petersburg where Pushkin, Blok, Dostoevsky and others lived and created their...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Bolshevik Revolution Walking Tour

Bolshevik Revolution Walking Tour

In the early 20th century Russia endured several revolutions waged against the Tsarist autocracy. The old regime fell and gave rise to a new formation, the Soviet Union. All the Russian revolutions took place in Saint Petersburg. Take this tour and discover the traces of Russian revolutions that had effect on the course of history of Russia and the entire world.

Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.2 Km or 5.7 Miles
Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg

Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is one of the greenest cities in Russia. It has many parks and gardens, among which the Summer Garden is the oldest. The guide invites you to a tour around the southern bank of the Neva River to stroll across the Summer Garden, the Mikhailovsky Park, and the Field of Mars, and to explore the attractions within.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Neva River and Griboedov Canal Tour

Neva River and Griboedov Canal Tour

The city of Saint Petersburg abounds in attractions and one day is definitely not enough to see them all. This guide invites you for a walk from the city's largest St. Isaac's Cathedral down to other major attractions found between the Neva River and the Griboedov Canal, ending at the beautiful Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas. This tour is an opportunity to learn more about St....  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

16 Unique Russian Things to Seek in St. Petersburg

16 Unique Russian Things to Seek in St. Petersburg

The "cradle of two revolutions", St. Petersburg bears cultural and historic significance for Russia that is hard to overestimate. Perhaps, nearly every stone in the downtown part of the city breathes history and can qualify as a memorable souvenir, although picking up them for such purpose...